Friday 6 January 2017

Camping at Pounawea- Part 2; Fishing


Continuing on from Part 1

David has spent a few low tides fishing in the estuary. Fishing for sea run trout along the Catlins River channel far out across the estuary mudflats.

It didn't take him long to realise that his waders would come in handy out on the exposed, windy and usually cold estuary.

Camp families come out to play, collect cockles and fish on the estuary at low tide too.

We had three weeks worth of low tides to collect cockles (also known as clams) but left it until yesterday to finally go and gather some, now I need a whole lot more because I've been reminded of a few recipes I now want to try out.

The water is lovely and clear and it's a sandy bottom, the cockles are just under the surface and huge! 

But still...I only went to hold the bag and take photos! This big boy came scuttling out of the sand and quickly re-buried himself a few feet away. Only to be dug up again a minute later. He was not a happy chappy.

After the keen fishers came home with a few trout one day, everyone, including our family, were eager to try their luck the next day. It's a wonder any fish were caught with all the activity going on.

But one of the men soon caught a fish...

And 'Southern Man' Adam caught another lovely trout, not 10 metres from where David had removed himself from the 'crowd' to fish.

You'll remember me mentioning in Part 1 that Adam caught an eel while out collecting koura, well his Dad sent me a photo. Isn't this a monster? Going by how far the dorsal fin reaches up it's back, it's length (they can grow up to 2mtrs) and the very dark colour, this is likely to be a Longfin eel rather than a Shortfin. Both freshwater eels are found in New Zealand's waterways and lakes.

Longfin eels can live up to 100 years and only breed once at the end of their lives. They leave their home territory where they've likely spend most of their lives and undertake a mass spawning migration, swimming all the way to the subtropical Pacific Ocean, where they spawn en masse in very deep water. Adam carefully returned this beauty to it's home, it might have another 40-50 years before it needs to migrate. And it's probably also why they didn't catch too many koura in this particular spot! All I could think about after seeing the photos was how much slime would have been coating Adam.

Often, while the others fished, I wandered over the estuary, checking for birds and taking photos, especially of the two amazing old tree stumps in the middle of the estuary.

Catching their reflections in left-over tidewater late one evening...

...and again the next day.

Ollie was keen to go fishing with Poppa by himself, so with his parents off having a few hours by themselves and Ruby chilling with me, he kitted himself out to catch the big one! It was freezing cold with passing showers, hence the amount of jackets and hats(3) he's wearing. He even got his 'camel' backpack out to wear in case it was thirsty work. I thought he looked like a scuba diver! 

Can you tell this is a Southland family below? They're in shorts and up to their knees in the cold water! They were out on the mudflats with David and Ollie when they had a bit of a shock. An aggressive leopard seal launched itself out of the water very close to one of the girls fishing. They all made a hasty retreat as it dived back in and swum over to the other side where another fisherman and his dog were fishing in the water just off a point. 

There was much shouting of  'get out of the water', before the guy realised there was something wrong. The seal splashed about where he'd been standing and then disappeared back into the depths. After this close encounter Ollie was a little spooked and decided he wanted to head home...without a fish. 

Murphy's Law, because the very next day after the family had left for home David came home with this beautiful Brown...

Which we smoked and devoured, after sharing some of it with our neighbours. It was very tasty too, the flesh quite pink compared with the last few lake trout we've had, more like salmon.

Ruby was more keen on 'fishing' for crabs under the rocks and in the small pools left behind by the tide, she carefully brought them home in a bucket to show everyone and then safely released them back into the tide afterwards. I'm not so sure she'd have been as keen if she'd seen the size of the one David dug up while gathering cockles.

To be continued...Part 3


  1. Loved your two Catlins's posts Shellie! We love Pounawea and its great to see you both loved it too. Mel Lemin��

    1. Thanks for your comments Mel, much appreciated. Part 3 is now up, hope you enjoy that too.


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